How Should We Deal With Conflict Minerals?

Dana Goldstein checks how a program intended to fight rape in Congo is faring:

The State Department has provided The Daily Beast with documents detailing how the $17 million to fight sexual violence have been allocated, mostly toward treatment programs for rape survivors. But human rights advocates hope for more. They believe the US should stop sending hundreds of millions of dollars in aid--including military training--to Rwanda and Uganda, whose armed militias perpetrate violence and rape across the border in Congo. They also criticize the administration and Congress for failing to crack down on multinational corporations that operate mines in the country, some of which have paid off armed groups in exchange for access to mineral deposits.

An Africa blogger pushes back against these activists:

Legalizing and legitimizing the mining sector is the best way to stabilize the region...It's ludicrous to pretend that the mineral trade in Congo can be affected in any significant way by American legislation, or that doing so will significantly affect the level of violence in the region. Without the basic tools of public order in place and functioning as instruments of the public good in the DRC, the provisions of [the Conflict Minerals Trade Act] are likely to work about as well as does the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme does in weak states that lack functioning governmental institutions - which is to say, not at all.

(Image: A gold buyer displays a recent purchase March 28, 2006 in the gold mining town of Mongbwalu, Congo. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images)